Travelling during her school holidays, weekends on the family boat and precious time spent wakeboarding with her brother are just three of the childhood experiences that planted the seed in Amelia Hudson’s mind that her dream future career may just lie in yachting.
An ocean enthusiast and passionate sailor, Amelia is currently working on board the 37 metre sailing yacht Anemoi, from where she discusses her determination to bag her first job in the competitive industry, the challenges she faced joining during Covid, and why travel will always remain her biggest motivator of all.
Can you tell us a little more about your background?
I have been around boats, beaches and the ocean my whole life, I can’t remember a time that my parents weren’t packing for a beach BBQ or weekend on the boat. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to pursue a career with the ocean constantly surrounding me - it was such a big part of my childhood and molded me into the woman I am today.
I studied sport and exercise science from 16-18 years old as it was something I loved doing, I was interested in learning how small changes in the body had such an impact on sport performance and, to be honest, at the time I had no idea what career path I wanted to take. I did know that university wasn’t for me though, so this was a subject I could be happy studying to get me through my adolescent education. Instead I worked full time in a retail position which gave me the means to save for my travels, learn more about myself and ultimately, realise that a long term career in retail was not for me.
My brother joined the yachting industry a couple of years after I returned from travelling. I wasn’t enjoying my job at home and knew something had to change, so I booked my STCW, handed in my notice and made the change. I was open to the idea that it might not be something I enjoyed but here I am, loving every experience and all the lessons to be learn. I have no intention of leaving anytime soon.
Did you grow up around boats and sailing?
I grew up in Cornwall, England, and as a young person there you’re either a sailor or a surfer. I’m definitely a sailor. My family has a boat, and we would spend every sunny weekend sailing to secluded anchorages with friends not far behind - so much fun was had. As I got older my brother and I were lucky enough to have access to a RIB so we’d go wakeboarding at every opportunity. Looking back, it’s a childhood I took for granted.
How did you go about getting your first job and how long did it take?
I created profiles on every crew agency site I could find and sent endless emails to jobs I believed were suited to me posted in Facebook groups. This was how I got my first job. I had applied for one at the beginning of the Med season but was unsuccessful due to my lack of experience. I continued my search until saw another post a couple of months later. The captain got back in touch saying he had received my CV again and asked if I was ready to leave - the next morning we were sailing to the South of France. That was a seasonal position until the end of September so I joined another boat, however I had an awful experience so I left and joined Anemoi in the December. It was a good four months before I secured a permanent position with a boat and captain I felt safe with.
Did you deliberately choose sailing over motor yachts or was this a starting point for you?
Sailing all the way! I was open to a motor yacht as I knew any experience was going to be better than none, but sailing was for sure my first choice. Don’t get me wrong, I would like to experience a motor yacht at some point during my career, but for now sailing is where I belong. Nothing beats the feeling of the sails catching the wind and feeling the boat power up.
You are relatively new to the industry – what were your first impressions and have they changed over time?
I heard about the industry through numerous family friends, and now having experienced it for myself I believe they gave a fairly accurate representation. You work hard, play hard. I definitely thought swimming and exploring the places you visit would play a bigger part – I had been in the Caribbean for six weeks before my first ocean swim! For me, being surrounded by the water and not being able to jump in is one of the biggest struggles, especially when you see guests diving into the depths.
Where are you currently working and what is the scope of your role on a day-to-day basis?
I’m currently in New England, USA, in the middle of our charter season so I am mainly fulfilling the stewardess side of my deck/stew role. It involves anything from breakfast service, creating cocktails and cabin turn downs to driving the tender, hoisting the spinnaker and helping with sail sheets. I love the diversity of my job! Right now we are preparing for the Safe Harbor Race Weekend Regatta which will be the first regatta I have participated in. It’s all go, but very exciting.
What is your favourite thing about the job?
Being able to experience heaps of amazing places I would never think to visit. And currently having the freedom to still be able to travel, I feel very privileged to be able to do that when a lot of places still have restrictions in place.
You have both interior and exterior experience – is there one specific area you would like to specialise in?
There are aspects of both that I love and enjoy, and I like that it keeps me on my toes, but ultimately I would like to be on deck full time. I just love being outside and learning new things about the workings of the boat sail tactics and watersports with the guests. Don’t get me wrong, I like how much face-to-face time you get as a stewardess with guests - we run with two owners who bring a lot of the same friends on their trips so you really get to know them well - but after a trip is over I’m eager to get back on deck.
Do you see yourself making the transition to larger superyachts?
At 37 metres, Anemoi has been a great starting point for me. To learn and understand the higher loads created on yachts this size, the spacious guest areas and level of maintenance needed to keep her shining, this is all experience I would like to take to larger superyachts for sure.
Are you currently taking any training courses?
Not at the moment, however I am looking into the advanced powerboat, yacht master and I would love to do my advanced firefighting. Going in to fight the fire/retrieve someone stuck inside is part of my role on board, and although we do a lot of safety training as a crew it would be great to have a higher level of training in that field.
What do you enjoy doing in your down time?
Honestly when this season is done, I am going to sleep for so long! I know that’s probably the most boring answer, but it couldn’t be truer. To go to bed and not have an alarm set is going to be heaven. Once I’ve had my fill of snoozing, I’ll get my explorer head back on, cycle and beach swim and try to rediscover an exercise routine.
You joined the industry in the middle of the pandemic – how was that experience for you?
It was interesting for sure. I flew to Palma as soon as I was allowed to, and even with their restrictions I had a great summer and networked within my brother’s friendship circle (who are mostly yachties). The most disappointing thing for me has been the lack of socialising with other boats when arriving in marinas due to Covid. When I first joined my current boat we had to be very aware of places we were visiting because no one wanted to be the one to bring it back to the boat and jeopardise an owner trip. It has gotten a lot better now as we’re in the US, vaccinated, and with fewer restrictions here, but initially the social scene wasn’t what I anticipated.
What are some of the hot topics and industry talking points among your peers currently?
One of the most popular ones, I would say, would have to be where the next cruising ground is going to be. We are supposed to be in the pacific right now on a world cruise but that got interrupted, so our next stop all depends on which countries allow our owners to fly into. A popular one on board recently has been what career we would choose if it wasn’t yachting. There’s been some interesting suggestions!
Prior to joining the yachting industry, you went travelling for a couple of years – where did you go and what were some of the highlights?
I started in Australia and used it as a base to see Indonesia and Fiji for two years. In a nutshell my highlights are bungee jumping in Cairns, climbing Uluru, island hopping in Fiji, the temples in Bali, and making friends for life. Hiking in the Canadian Rockies was one of my all-time favourites, the scenes in those mountains are second to none and absolutely breathtaking. I hold that trip close to my heart and have dreams of returning.
What was the most important thing you learned during this time?
Not to judge people before really getting to know them, and when you’re living in such close quarters that doesn’t take too long. Nowadays it is so easy to judge people for every little thing, but when you’re travelling none of that matters - it’s all about the person and their story. This is something that I remember in day-to-day life because it’s such a sense of freedom when you can walk down the street, respecting everyone’s choices and go about your business. I once read a quote that says: “It’s not your reaction that defines you, it’s your first thought after.”
Has travel always been a big passion of yours?
We travelled a fair bit as a family when I was growing up. Not in the sense of the word where we would be gone for months at a time, but for summer or winter holidays to different countries. I guess that was the first realisation for me that there was more world out there to see. Then a college friend of mine moved to the Philippines so I went to visit for a month at 18. This was my first taste of travelling and the longest time I’d spent away from home, having not gone to university. I came home and knew I had to start planning a bigger trip, so I saved and made it happen.
Which cruising grounds have you visited so far, and which are your favourites?
Due to Covid our winter season was limited, and with our owners not wanting to test too much we stuck to the US Virgin Islands. Now we’re on the east coast and I did a little trip around the South of France on my first boat. I think the USVI’s would have to be my favourite - you just can’t beat island cruising in clear blue water with white sand beaches at every turn.
Tell us a lesser-known fact about yourself that would surprise your colleagues?
I have two birth certificates. My mum wasn’t sure what to call me, so a friend suggested Molly which she went along with. Six weeks later she changed her mind and registered me as Amelia – she didn’t tell anyone and for the next 18 years proceeded to call me Molly anyway. It took until I was 16 for my paternal grandmother to know my real name.
What do you aspire to do beyond yachting?
A dream of mine I have had for a few years now is owning a beachside café, making my own ice cream and baking sweet treats, maybe expanding a little to selling local artists’ work. I would especially love to have one thing that the café would be known for so people would say: “Oh. we’ve got to go to Amelia’s for her…”. I just need to figure out what that something would be! And if I would call it Amelia’s…
Where do you see yourself five years down the line? And 10?
Oh my gosh, what a question. I’m not a huge planner, and I’m a firm believer of ‘if you’re not enjoying where you are or what you’re doing, change it.’ That means it’s not something I have thought much about, but I suppose recently I’ve been giving it a little more thought. In five years I would like to be on the property ladder and higher up the exterior ranks, and 10 years I would like to have a place to call home (preferably by the coast) with an enjoyable work/life balance. Depending on how my career in yachting is going and if I’m still happy where I am, I would like to be starting the process of opening the café. Having the freedom to travel as much as I wish to would be amazing too.
With thanks to Crew & Concierge